The top 10 stories with the most clicks and social media shares this year
Lumina News readers showed interest in a wide range of stories in 2016, from the closing of a popular beach hangout to a misguided helicopter stunt to a dramatic military pilot rescue. As always, stories about local business and development were popular,as were stories about local crime, incoming storms and the ever-developing parking rules and rates.
1. Buddy’s bids goodbye
The closing of the popular Buddy’s Crab House and Oyster Bar drew a strong online response from our readers, many of whom wanted one last chance to visit the establishment that served Wrightsville Beach for 25 years. With 291 shares, it was one of the most popular social media posts for Lumina News as well. Sadly, owner Buddy Wiles died in June, just a few months after the establishment’s February closing, which also prompted an outpouring of support from readers.
2. Helicopter stunt at beach party prompts town response
Controversy ensued following a misfired promotional stunt during the annual University of North Carolina Wilmington Beach Blast party on Wrightsville Beach in August after a helicopter dropped dollar bills and fliers on the students. Wrightsville Beach town officials sought charges against both the pilot and the marketer, citing concerns for public safety over the unsanctioned flyover, while several commenters on Lumina News’ Facebook page expressed anger that many of the fliers ended up in the water. The company’s owner apologized and organized a beach sweep, while the Federal Aviation Administration cleared the pilot of any charges.
3. Diver swims under fire to end shooting incident
When bullets started flying into Wrightsville Marina in April, diver Chris Wilshire reflected on his Marine Corps training and acted, swimming the length of a football field across Motts Channel to the spoil islands, where two young men were firing a rifle for target practice. Wilshire ordered the men to take their boat back to the marina, where police charged one of them with damaging personal property. While the men said they expected the trees and brush to catch the bullets, the 30-caliber rifle shots easily cut through the vegetation, with several rounds hitting boats and coming close to hitting people at the marina. Wilshire’s employer said he selflessly put an end to a “scary situation” that could have resulted in serious injury or even death.
4. Lifeguards first to reach downed jet pilot
When a Marine Corps jet crashed off the coast of Wrightsville Beach in May, the Coast Guard and county sheriff’s office scrambled to reach the scene where the pilot had ejected. But no one got there before Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue, as Capt. Jeremy Owens drove a Jet Ski more than a mile out to the scene and lifeguard Kyle Miess swam through a debris field to be the first to reach the pilot, who was unharmed in the crash. The town awarded Owens and Miess with medals for meritorious service.
5. Wrightsville Beach sets new parking rules
Parking is always a top concern for Lumina News’ readers and reports regarding rule changes made by the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen in February drew a notable response from readers. The board voted to add new metered zones, extend hours of enforcement and raise the price of residential parking passes. The new parking zones, along with prime weather, helped the town surpass $3 million in parking revenue for the first time.
6. Red Dogs under new ownership
The news that Charlie Maultsby sold Red Dogs after more than 41 years of ownership to another local bar owner drew a big response, both online and on Lumina News’ Facebook page. Maultsby had fought several battles with the town over its state liquor permit. The town also objected to the permit being issued to Jimmy Gilleece, the owner of Jimmy’s at Red Dogs, who became the new owner of the upstairs Red Dogs. Gilleece said he improved security at the nightclub, which has generated some controversy over the years from residents and town officials for its late-night crowds and the noise it generates.
7 . Town urges residents to obtain re-entry passes as Hurricane Matthew approaches
Readers closely followed coverage of Hurricane Matthew’s landfall in North Carolina, especially information and warnings from local authorities. As Matthew approached, the town of Wrightsville Beach urged residents, property owners and frequent visitors to make sure they had storm re-entry passes, which were being issued as officials made plans for what was, at the time, a serious threat to the town. While Matthew created little damage locally, the rains caused devastating flooding in the western part of the state.
8. Mega yacht docks downtown
Lumina News’ readers love the coastal lifestyle, especially boats, which is why our feature on the 145-foot luxury yacht Island Heiress was one of the top stories of 2016. The $25 million “mega yacht” was docked at Port City Marina in downtown Wilmington for several months this summer. The yacht’s onboard features include a 30-foot inflatable water slide, a Jacuzzi tub, and four WaveRunners. There are accommodations for 12 guests in six staterooms, and space for 10 crewmembers.
9. New Wrightsville Beach business pairs coffee, sharks’ teeth
A newly opened Wrightsville Beach business in April offered visitors a unique pairing: sharks’ teeth and coffee. Our readers were excited about the opening of The Workshop, a coffee shop that also sells handmade jewelry like sharks’ teeth necklaces. After visiting Wrightsville Beach and earning her scuba certificate, the business owner opened her shop in a 400-square-foot location by the Kohl’s Frozen Custard building.
10. Summertime armed robberies on Wrightsville Beach
A brazen pair of armed heists in Wrightsville Beach this summer prompted a massive police response, but ultimately, the two suspects were never caught. On June 11, two men robbed at gunpoint two different sets of couples on the beach. Wrightsville Beach police conducted a manhunt on the island’s south end, where the second of the two robberies occurred. Police searched vehicles on West Salisbury Street until 3:30 a.m. and also called in the Wilmington police helicopter and county sheriff’s office K-9 unit to search for the suspects, who took wallets, keys and mobile phones from the victims.